OEB to allow small-scale renewable projects to jump the distribution connection queue
Effective February 12, 2009, the Ontario Energy Board ("OEB") amended its Distribution System Code ("DSC") to make it easier for small-scale generation projects to connect to the grid. By default, projects that wish to be connected to a distribution system are considered on a "first come first served" basis. The amendments to the DSC exempt certain projects from the default process, allowing them to jump the queue.
Under the previous version of the DSC, "micro-embedded generation projects", defined as embedded generation facilities with a name-plate rated capacity of 10 kW or less, were exempt fron the queuing process. The amendments preserve the exemption for micro-embedded generation projects and extend it to apply also to "queue exempt small embedded generation facilities", which include the following: any embedded generation facility which is not a micro-embedded generation facility and which has a name-plate rated capacity of 250 kW or less in the case of a facility connected to a less than 15 kV line and 500 kW or less in the case of a facility connected to a 15 kV or greater line.
The expanded exemption applies retroactively to projects already in the connection queue. However, distributors retain the discretion to reject applications where the proposed project may adversely impact a larger generation project already in the queue. Such rejections must be put to the OEB for consideration. A detailed discussion of the amendments, and the discussions leading up to them, is available from the OEB.
In its press release, the OEB justified the amendments as follows: "These changes will support the development of smaller, local generation by allowing pending projects to move forward immediately, and by simplifying the process to connect new smaller generation projects."
The Green Energy Act, to be unveiling next week, may further simplify the process by requiring distributors to connect renewable power projects. The Green Energy Act Alliance (see our related posting ) has been advocating for a "right to connect." We should know by Monday whether such a right is part of Minister Smitherman's bill.